Pine-Richland defeats Penn-Trafford to claim 6th WPIAL baseball title
Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 8:31 PM
With Wild Things Park stuck under a layer of rain clouds, Penn-Trafford and Pine-Richland waited an extra day to play their WPIAL baseball championship.
For Pine-Richland, the celebration was worth the wait, while first-time finalist Penn-Trafford must wait some more.
The Rams won their sixth WPIAL baseball title and second in three years Thursday night with a 7-2 victory over Penn-Trafford in the WPIAL Class 6A final. The Rams also won titles in 2017, ’10, ’06, ’05 and ’04 and were runners-up in ’09.
“Once you’re here one time, you want it more and more,” Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe said. “You want that feeling, and there’s nothing better than putting a gold medal around these young men’s neck.”
Top-seeded Penn-Trafford (18-4) was making its first WPIAL championship-game appearance but will wait for another year to experience that title-winning feeling. Pine-Richland senior Matt Wood’s RBI single in the fourth broke a 2-2 tie, and then the Rams piled on three more runs in the fifth to pull away.
“It’s surreal,” said Wood, a Penn State recruit. “We knew we had the talent. To be able to come out and do this with my brothers of 10-plus years, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Second-seeded Pine-Richland (18-4) finished with 11 hits, five walks and one hit batter. Wood reached base five times with a triple, a single, three walks and two RBIs.
Penn-Trafford starter Maclean Maund allowed six runs on six hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings.
“It came down to (giving away) free bases and timely hitting,” Penn-Trafford coach Dan Miller said.
Pine-Richland was seeded second behind Penn-Trafford, but the Rams insisted that they never felt like underdogs. Their lineup includes a number of future college players including Division 1 recruits headed to Vanderbilt (Troy LaNeve) and Kent State (Josh Johnson).
“We felt that we had the better team,” senior JD Armstrong said. “We knew we’d be labeled the underdogs but we knew all along that we should win.”
Pine-Richland scored two runs in the first, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the seventh. Armstrong went 2 for 4 with a run scored and two RBIs for the Rams, and Grant Voytovich scored twice.
Pine-Richland made four errors but overcame them with four solid innings from starter Tommy Beam and three scoreless frames from reliever Matt Schietroma. They combined to hold Penn-Trafford to six hits — all singles.
“We made some errors defensively but we limited the inning,” Wolfe said.
Beam (5-0) allowed two runs in four innings and earned the win. He surrendered five hits, two walks and struck out five. Schietroma allowed one hit and two walks.
Both teams boarded team buses Wednesday for what was supposed to be a 7:30 p.m. start. Penn-Trafford reached the stadium in Washington just as the game was postponed. Pine-Richland was still stuck in traffic on Interstate 79. The postponement brought back memories from 2017 for Pine-Richland. The Rams defeated North Allegheny that year in a Class 6A final that also was delayed a day.
“We were pumped to play (Wednesday), but once it happened, we were sitting on the bus saying: ‘This is kind of familiar,’” Wood said. “We thought it was a good sign.”
Pine-Richland took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Wood walked, LaNeve reached on a bunt single and Armstrong followed with a two-out, two-run single to left.
Penn-Trafford answered with one run apiece in the second and third innings. Maund had an RBI single in the second, and Mario Disso added a run-scoring single in the third to tie 2-2.
Pine-Richland retook a 3-2 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Wood, and then extended its edge with three runs in the fifth. Armstrong, Jake Maley and Voytovich all reached base and scored, chasing Penn-Trafford starter Maund with one out.
“When they scored the third run, there was still no panic,” Miller said. “We tried to be patient and persevere. That’s been our M.O. all year. When they put up the three-spot in the fifth inning, I could see the sails start to deflate.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .